Lanark: A Life in Four Books

Lanark A Life in Four Books This work originally published in has been hailed as the most influential Scottish novel of the second half of the th century Its playful narrative techniques convey a profound message perso

  • Title: Lanark: A Life in Four Books
  • Author: Alasdair Gray WilliamBoyd
  • ISBN: 9781841959078
  • Page: 108
  • Format: Paperback
  • This work, originally published in 1981, has been hailed as the most influential Scottish novel of the second half of the 20th century Its playful narrative techniques convey a profound message, personal and political, about humankind s inability to love and yet our compulsion to go on trying.

    One thought on “Lanark: A Life in Four Books”

    1. Some novels are like the Cheshire Cat, the only thing left of them is their smile. Can't remember much about this big, crazy book but I do remember it was big, and crazy, and about Glasgow, and not-Glasgow, which was called Unthank. I thought it was brilliant, but I can't tell you why now. Everything has faded except that sometimes i look up and there's its smile in the air.

    2. I read Alasdair's part hopelessly biographical, part darkest fantasy Lanark in the spring of 2007. I could not read it again. In those days I'd identified the character(s) Lanark/Thaw to the person I was in love with (especially the artist parts). (I bet I'm the only person who is gonna say that about THIS book.) Those feelings changed (boy did they ever) and I'd not be able to bear being reminded of those feelings (as they probably should have always been) in their new light. I feel kinda crazy [...]

    3. I wanted very much to love this book, which was probably my first mistake. I had heard a lot of extremely complimentary things about how it was the most unusual, eccentric and meaningful novel various people had read for ages, and I probably came to it with rather exaggerated hopes. Anyway, it's good, but it's also flawed, as to be fair the author himself admits in a rather interesting confessional Epilogue. The first thing you notice when you open it up and check out the Contents page is that i [...]

    4. This novel is a mix of dystopia with fantasy elements and bildungsroman. We start in the future where we come across a dysfunctional group of pseudo-cognoscenti hanging out in a local cinema-cum-coffee shop called The Elite. In this section of the book, Lanark, our hero, lives a rather purposeless life in Unthank (parallel universe Glasgow), cavorts with these layabouts there before being sucked underground by a giant pair of lips. There he enters a vast Orwellian compound known as The Institute [...]

    5. I do not know what I just read. In the best possible way.What can I say that doesn't spoil something?-It's illustrated by the author. And rather well, I might add.-Gray plays with structure. And linearity. And your fucking head.-Just when you think you know what's going on, you don't.Tonight I went to the library to see some local new author guy talk about his book which is completely irrelevant to this review. But what is relevant is that the guy sitting in front of me put the book he was readi [...]

    6. One of my favorite books of all time. One of my most prized possessions is a beautiful collector's edition of this book I received as a gift. Although it is an amalgamation of many things--weird sci-fi dystopia/apocalypse, coming-of-age artist portrait, and political and class satire among them--it is one of the most wholly original works I have read, and it is deeply affecting. I adore this book.

    7. Around 200 pages mark: Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo long - and unbearably boring. I only have about 200 pages left so I'll soldier through and finish it although I'm unimpressed and will probably not pick up another Gray for some time.Later: Rarely do I give up on a book if I've already already managed to read its first 490 pages and have only around 60 pages left because after trudging through so many pages it feels pointless not to make a final effort and spend half an hour actually finishing th [...]

    8. This is an Up Yours Novel. Maybe I invented this semanteme. But that was how it felt as I finished reading it--Alasdair Gray grinning, giving me the finger.I was amused, angry too, but smiling. It was not a joke, Gray spent years and years writing this. I suspect that at first he didn't know where he was going. He just wrote, grew old, wrote some more, and grew older. Finally he realized he must stop somewhere. He already had almost four books, all unpublished. So how to end? He clenched his fis [...]

    9. Crazy, frustrating, intensely boring in parts and brilliant in others, Lanark is Gray's stab at the Divine Comedy. Divided into four non-consecutive books, two of which take place in the Glaswegian hell of Unthank, the other two in Glasgow, we follow the life of Duncan Thaw (or Lanark, as he is called in Unthank) through his youth, death, and afterlife. I loved the dragons in book 3--an eczema-like disease leads to people becoming full-blown dragons. This felt like a perfect image for the emotio [...]

    10. Started out interesting, and I was looking forward to finding out more of the strange world and how people ended up and got out of there, but the main character seriously annoyed and even more so when I got to his "real" life. A more narcissistic, misogynistic and antisocial character I've seldom met, and I found it hard to keep reading about him. It got a bit more interesting in the last part, but the world-building never really worked for me. Interesting but flawed.

    11. I'm feeling hugely ambivalent about this book. On the one hand, the first book (which is also the third book) is tremendous. As I was reading it, I was thinking, ah, this book is going to be one of those five star books, maybe even a favorite. This is splendid: inventive, engaging. Then we hit backstory. About this I felt meh. It's a narrative of a life, with maybe more mental illness in it than most, but okay, competently done, worth reading. Nothing, however, like the first (third) part, which [...]

    12. Maybe one of the best autobiographical novels out there, and certainly the best one I've read. Near perfect for the most part, with just the right few fatal flaws. Lanark follows the life of Thaw/Lanark, through his short, nasty life in Scotland and his afterlife in Unthank. But it's arranged so that you get the first half of the afterlife, then the whole life itself, then the second half of the afterlife. It's a sensible way to lay it out, but it has the side effect of seeming like it's arrange [...]

    13. Alasdair Gray notes in the Epilogue section, strangely on p. 493 of his 560 page novel: " A possible explanation is that the author thinks a heavy book will make a bigger splash than two light ones. This note, well the entire section, appears to reconcile the disparate narratives which occupy the novel. Seldom have I ever encountered such polarizing sections; the Thaw scenes I absolutely loved and the Lanark/Unthank episodes were perfectly dreadful. The latter was likely intentional, portraits o [...]

    14. A fascinating, experimental yet eminently readable, funny and serious, neo-Romantic novel about a guy at odds with the world(s) around him. Lanark is a self-aware novel in which the main character switches back and forth between an allegorical post-apocalyptic world and the grim landscape of industrial Scotland. The protagonist, a somewhat slothful wannabe artist, tries desperately to create epic works of art and to find True Romance, but lacks the willpower or compassion to do either. When he f [...]

    15. This book took me by surprise in every way. It was recommended to me by a patriotic Scotsman, so I was a bit skeptical, thinking that maybe his pride might be altering his judgment on the actual quality of the book. Also, science fiction and fantasy are not two of my favorite genres. Despite all of this, the book blew me away. It's set in a wonderfully dystopic version of Glasgow, Scotland. The protagonist I suppose reflects the author's own upbringing and - to a limited extent - some of his exp [...]

    16. This really is a masterpiece. Flawed, especially in the last book which occasionally tried my patience, but even then it is so brilliantly written and conceived that I had to read on. Special thanks to Montambo and Paul, otherwise I would have never heard of this, a true modern piece of literature that I believe captures the late 20th century. Even its flaws of self-consciousness matches the main character's true weakness of spiritual yearning and emptiness.

    17. Lanark is a story (or two) told in the wrong (but really quite right) order, a dystopian take on all the things that so readily lend themselves to the dystopian treatment: capitalism, power, love, etc. There are funny bits, fantastical bits, postmodern bits, and depressing bits, and Alasdair Gray is beyond smooth at weaving them all together.

    18. 2.5 stars.Hype is a funny thing isn't it? Sometimes it can put something on your radar that you wouldn't normally have paid any attention to, and you come out of that situation the better person. And then there are the times where this doesn't happen. Those are the painful times, and it really does pain me to have to write this review.Let me just clarify, I go by the star rating system. 2 stars means 'it was okay'. I have given this 2.5 because I feel that the book deserves more praise than tha [...]

    19. the thaw section made me kind of uncomfortable because i was more or less that guy in college but with books instead of arts. ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww [...]

    20. From BBC Radio 4 - Saturday Drama:Dramatisation of Alasdair Gray's cult classic by Robin Brooks with Alasdair Gray.First published in 1981, Lanark changed the face of Scottish literature for a generation and propelled the visual artist Alasdair Gray into the literary limelight.It's a modern masterpiece that spans three worlds in four books, and tells the connected stories of Duncan Thaw - a student at Glasgow's Art School in the 1950s - and Lanark - a man who wakes to find himself in an unspecif [...]

    21. Post-modern but not post-modern, says El. Impossible to review, she says. Anything she says will ruin it, she says. 'Kay.

    22. Every bit as strange and wonderful as I was hoping. If you'll forgive the crass comparison, this novel resembles a mash-up of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dante's Inferno. Or, perhaps a new wave science-fiction epic by Flann O'Brien. Or maybe a novelized lost-masterpiece by Dennis Potter. Actually, it doesn't quite resemble any of those things, but if you would enjoy reading any of the above, you must pick this novel up immediately.The plot? It's about a young starving artist in Gla [...]

    23. re-visit 2015 comes via R4bbc/programmes/b04n20tyDescription: First published in 1981, Lanark changed the face of Scottish literature for a generation and propelled the visual artist Alasdair Gray into the literary limelight.It's a modern masterpiece that spans three worlds in four books, and tells the connected stories of Duncan Thaw - a student at Glasgow's Art School in the 1950s - and Lanark - a man who wakes to find himself in an unspecified period in the strange yet familiar place, Unthank [...]

    24. This went from:Book 3- definite favourite book ever!Book 1- I'll skip thisBook 2- I'll skip thisBook 4- . . .Sad. I think it is cruel to create an immersive and surprising world that draws the reader in, then spend 3 other books talking about your own life and revealing every bloody reference that you used to create the first book, and how clever and well read you are ahhhhblahhhhhhhh Ah, but this is a book about his life! I must have missed the point! Not really, because the book starts with im [...]

    25. Duncan Thaw, an artist living in Glasgow, and the man who arrives in the city of Unthank by train at the beginning of the book and takes the name Lanark, are one and the same person. Lanark isn’t quite as useless as Thaw, but it's hard to like a book with such an unlikeable protagonist, even though the book covers interesting political and social issues. I only really started to enjoy it in the final quarter, when time becomes unreliable (even outside the Intercalendrical Zones), and Lanark me [...]

    26. "But now the fantasies were imbecile frivolity, and poetry was whistling in the dark, and novels showed life fighting its own agony, and biographies were accounts of struggles toward violent or senile ends, and history was an infinitely diseased worm without head or tail, beginning or end." When a mind loses its way in reality it tries to hide in madness.

    27. Two stars because I can see why this novel is important, and I loved what Gray did with the Epilogue, but oh boy did I loathe both Thaw and Lanark and I wish this book had been about 370 pages shorter.

    28. Lanark is really two stories: the story of the title character’s fumbling attempts to find love and enjoy life in a Kafkaesque future Glasgow; and the mid-twentieth-century coming-of-age story of a boy, Thaw, who is similarly alienated from society and the female sex, and is driven mad by a yearning for these things. These two tales have only the most tenuous of connections.The apocalyptic future fantasy of Lanark is, in its first half (Book 3), simply brilliant. Its first chapters inhabit a s [...]

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